The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Friday, April 17, 2009

Reporter gets fired...

There are people who go to work, do their jobs and then go home at the end of the day never thinking twice about the last 8 hours they spent dedicating their time to accomplishing something. In fact, the biggest concern they have regarding their career is just what to do with the check they've "earned".

Then there are the people who don't have a career- they have a passion, the fact that they are going to get paid to do it is the last thing on their minds. They are those rare people who you just know, would be doing it regardless of a check because what they do is so ingrained into who they are.

Take reporters for instance. If you read enough of their work, you'll quickly be able to see who does their job and who is living their life's dream- that person who'd be telling the story to everyone because he's moved by it rather than because well... he happens to be able to punch out a few lines and pick up a check every other week. Now, reporters come in all shapes and sizes covering all sorts of stories but some stories, some cases take a very special person to retell them which is why I tend to believe that some of the best reporters out there are investigative reporters who have to go beyond merely rehashing whatever tidbit might have been slipped into their ear, and really get in depth to see the case well enough to make their readers feel like they are a part of it.

I know a reporter that can do that. That can open up a cold case dating back 20 years and tell it so well, you can envision it as if you were standing right there. I want to tell you about him.

A couple years ago, I get this email out of the blue from some Cleveland Ohio guy. He starts if off by telling me about a cold case involving the murder of a 10 year old girl in 1989. 1989 folks. And then he mentions that in 1989 he was just a few months older than the girl herself. Now, years later he's a journalist, and he's set his sight on solving her murder. I read his blog. I buy his book. I can see the passion he has for this case, and almost think that perhaps, perhaps maybe there was so much passion dedicated to this one story that this is going to be his one hit wonder. Not that he won't continue writing- but that it was unlikely someone could be so deeply involved with a case like that and still have the ability to be just as passionate about other cases that I felt would eventually make their way to his desk.

My doubts were not just unfounded- they were completely insane. Because a year later, this same reporter emailed again, with another case he'd been working on. And he told the story filling it with the same passion that connected me to the previous case. Maybe he was a two hit wonder.

And then, he emailed again. My god this reporter/author/blogger is just too much. Always coming up with something so intriguing, it leaves me wanting to peek into his hard drive and see what he'll be sharing next.

So, fast forward past all the amazing things he's written and I've got his blog(s) bookmarked, and a few of his books sitting on my shelf and just so you know- it's not just me who thinks this reporter is impressive. He's liked by a lot of people. Crime bloggers, other reporters, authors-- he's impressive and talented and he's earned their respect. Which is probably why I was so shocked to find he'd been fired as a reporter.

I didn’t just love my job. I adored it. I started freelancing for Cleveland Scene back in 2003, when it was still owned by New Times. Left in 2005 to finish my book on the Amy Mihaljevic case. In November of that year, I went to work for my old editor from Scene, over at the Free Times. After the merger of Cleveland’s two alt-weeklies last year, I found myself–quite literally–at my old desk in the offices of Scene, now owned by media conglomerate Times-Shamrock.

Yesterday, I got fired for daring to question the judgement of Times-Shamrock CEO Matthew E. Haggerty.

Of course, James Renner offers a link to a fuller explanation of what happened here.
But after reading his post, and the one he linked to... I'm still left with two lingering questions- one: wth was Haggerty thinking and two: who will be the lucky paper to catch this gem as their new investigative reporter.

After reading what happened, and reflecting upon the incredible work he's done in the past- I am shocked and angered that he was treated with such a lack of respect.

I couldn't actually find contact information for the twit that made this decision, and to be honest I don't really have anyone (as in Mr Renner's) okaying my idea here, however- I do know that a good deal of you have always enjoyed James' guest posts and other posts regarding his work... so if you're so inclined I'm sure that someone at the Times Shamrock or Cleveland scene might be able to assist you in contacting Haggerty.

Cleveland Scene Contacts here.

The Times Shamrock contact list can be found here.